INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- Should hunting and fishing be protected rights for Hoosier residents? That’s a question all Indiana voters will have a chance to weigh in on this election. Public Question One, also known as the Indiana Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment, would guarantee that right to all Hoosiers if passed.
“There are families that have had a heritage of the outdoors and hunting and we want to be sure that in the future those opportunities will not be challenged,” said State Senator Jim Tomes, who is one of eight GOP lawmakers sponsoring the amendment.
If passed, it would prohibit the state or local governments from passing laws that restrict hunting. It would also make hunting the state’s preferred method of wildlife conservation. Tomes says the amendment is necessary to make sure Hoosiers will always have the ability to hunt, fish and trap.
“Sometimes things happen that people never would imagine,” said Tomes. “And so there are occasions where you have to maybe take steps to protect against maybe the possibility, and this is one of those possibilities.”
Tomes also says if hunting were restricted, the state would lose out on money collected through licenses and permits. However, opponents question whether Hoosiers’ ability to hunt and fish is really in jeopardy to begin with.
“If this amendment fails, nothing will change as far as hunting and fishing continuing to be legal and protected by law,” said Tim Maloney of the Hoosier Environmental Council.
That organization is urging Hoosiers to vote no on the amendment, arguing the right to hunt is not on par with other protected rights like freedom of speech or religion.
“It’s just not the type of right or activity that rises to a level of our traditional constitutional rights,” said Maloney.
He also worries the amendment could impact existing efforts to protect the environment.
“Our concern there is that at some point in the future, a court would be asked to strike down a reasonable hunting and fishing regulation or even a policy that protects endangered species because it would in some way interfere with this constitutional protection,” said Maloney.
If the amendment passes, Indiana will be the twentieth state to pass such a measure.